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Lastolite Strobo Review

Lastolite Strobo Review - Lastolite Strobo is a portable flash modifier kit with honeycomb grids, masks and coloured filter gels. Here we see how it performs in the studio.

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Category : Portable Flash Accessories
Product : Lastolite Strobo
Price : £108
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

The Lastolite Strobo is a flash modification kit that includes an adjustable flash adaptor, four metal masks, a set of coloured filter gels, two gel / mask holders and two honeycomb grids. It's used to change the colour or shape of your portable flash light for creative effects in the studio or on location.

Lastolite Strobo-kit

Lastolite Strobo Features

Lastolite Strobo Adaptor

The Strobo system works around the flash adaptor (above). It has three rubber padded bendy brackets that adjust to accommodate most sized flash heads and is held in place by a Velcro fastening elasticated band. I tried the system on a tiny Cobra flash, a medium-sized Sunpak (similar to the size of the Nikon and Canon Speedlites) and the chunky head of a Pentax flash (similar in size to the Metz 45 hammerhead). It held securely with all three.

Lastolite Strobo Adaptor on Sunpak flash Lastolite Strobo Adaptor on bulky Pentax flash
Lastolite Strobo Adaptor on a Sunpak flash. Lastolite Strobo Adaptor on an older and bulkier Pentax zoom flash head.

Once in place you can then attach the modifiers. Gels and masks slip into the gel/mask holder and this is magnetic and holds in place on the adaptor without any need for clasps, clamps or locks. This makes it very quick to attach and remove modifiers, providing you have the holder the right way up so the magnets attract, not repel. Four register pins ensure it sits in the right location.

Lastolite Strobo Adaptor Velcro fastening Strobo-3300963

Key Features

  • 2x Gel / Mask holders
  • Velcro fastening adaptor
  • 4x metal masks
  • 2x honeycomb grids
  • 3x warming
  • 3x cooling gels
  • 4x coloured filter gels
  • 1x 2 stop ND gel
  • 1x 1 stop diffuser gel
  • Carry case
The masks are aluminium with cutouts including two single circle masks to give a spotlight style shadow and two pattern ones for gobo-style like lighting effects. The filter gels include four colours - red, yellow, blue and green and the warm and cool sets include full, half and quarter strengths.

Lastolite Strobo Mask set Lastolite Strobo Gel set
Lastolite Strobo Mask set Lastolite Strobo Filter Gel set

It's supplied with a carrying pouch case with four individual pockets for the holder. honeycombs, filters and masks.

Lastolite Strobo Case open Lastolite Strobo Case closed
Lastolite Strobo pouch case open Lastolite Strobo case closed

Lastolite Strobo Handling

Attaching the adaptor is fairly easy, although a third hand would be useful. You bend the brackets so they are positioned over the head and sides and then wrap the elasticated strap around to secure the brackets and lock the strap tightly in place using the Velcro. Ideally one hand would be holding the flash, while another adjusts and positions the brackets and the third wraps the Velcro around and tightens. The adaptor can be finely adjusted so the flash head is central before attaching the magnetic holder.

Gels and masks slide into the holder which is easy to do with the rigid metal masks, but more fiddly with the gels. You need to get the gel aligned and then pull down from inside at each side to avoid it kinking. This results in fingerprints, but they don't matter for a flash filter. What would be better is if the adaptor split with each half clipping back magnetically too. That would make a much quicker to load gels. Hopefully this will be considered for future releases of the product.

Lastolite Strobo Performance

The first thing I tried was an illumination test of the Honeycomb grids. The first row is of a white wall with the lens set to 16mm (24mm in 35mm format). The flash head was set at its widest setting of 35mm. This way you can see the vignette effect to its fullest. I took four shots: one with bare flash, then one with the larger grid, then one with smaller grid and then both grids combined. I also took the same shot with a mannequin so you can see how the illumination appears in a real life (well almost - she's not come to life yet) situation.

Lastolite Strobo No Grid attached
No Grid
Lastolite Strobo large Grid attached
Large Grid attached
Lastolite Strobo small Grid attached
Small Grid attached
Lastolite Strobo Both Grids attached
Both Grids attached
Lastolite Strobo Direct No Modifier attached Lastolite Strobo large Grid attached Lastolite Strobo small Grid attached Lastolite Strobo Both Grids attached

As you can see the use of the grid gives a pleasing vignette and focuses the strength of the flash towards the center. It's ideal for creative portrait lighting and would also suit still life shots, such as a perfume or jewelery, where the focus is on the centrally placed subject.

I then adjusted position for a more artistic shot of the mannequin and used a variety of Strobo filters and gels to test the versatility of this kit.

Lastolite Strobo no attachments
No attachment
Lastolite Strobo Large Grid attached
Large grid attached
Lastolite Strobo Small Grid attached
Small grid attached
Lastolite Strobo Both Grids attached
Both grids attached
Lastolite Strobo Circles Mask attached
Circles mask attached
Lastolite Strobo Small Spot Mask attached
Small spot mask
Lastolite Strobo Large Spot Mask attached
Large spot mask
Lastolite Strobo  Red Gel attached
Red gel attached
Lastolite Strobo Red gel and Small Grid attached
Red gel & small grid
 
Lastolite Strobo Red Gel used as hair-light
Red gel as hairlight
 
Lastolite Strobo Red Gel on the background
Red gel on background
 
Lastolite Strobo Circles mask on the Background
Circles mask on background

Keeping the exposure consistent shows that the attachments reduce the amount of light emited by the flash, so you need to compensate. It's about a third of a stop for the large grid, 2/3rds for the small grid and one stop for the combined pair. The patterned masks and the small spot need 1 1/2 to 2 stops extra exposure.

I like the effect of the grids, although the combined grids shot may be too heavy going on the vignette for most. The large grid is excellent.

I  took a series using the red gel so I could see the versatility of a filter attached, similar effects could be achieved with the other colours. Using the flash with a gel as a back light or hairlight can provide interesting alternative shots.

The aluminium masks are well made, but the patterned ones really need a light source that focuses so you can use them to create the patterned shadows on a background. The illumination from a flash head is too soft and too close, so the shadow is just a scrambled uneven shape.

Value For Money

At £108 you could feel the Strobo kit is expensive, but when looking at the competition it's fairly priced. Most alternatives don't offer kits with such range of options. For example there's the recently reviewed Rogue 3-in-1 which costs £45, but just comes with two honeycomb grids. The Gary Fong Lightsphere is also £45 and only has a single honeycomb grid option for £30. Four colour filters are available in the collapsible Lightsphere kit for £95 which doesn't include the honeycomb. Honl Photo produce an adaptor and a smaller range of filter gels and grids, but it doesn't have masks and the combined cost of their accessories is around £80.
 

Lastolite Strobo Verdict

Lastolite have always been at the top of their game in providing innovative solutions for flash photographers and the magnetic clip system of the Strobo is another of their great ideas. The adaptor is versatile for most flash heads and the accessories are quick to remove so will be ideal for flash photographers who're shooting fast changing action. Shame the gels don't slip into the holder easier and the masks don't work effectivly, but apart from those small niggle this is a competent system that delivers.
 
  The magneitic clips make this really easy to use, and the results can be very creative.

Lastolite Strobo Pros

Universal adaptor suits most flash heads
Magnetic clip system
Great effects from modifiers
Light weight


Lastolite Strobo Cons

Gels not easy to slide in
Gobo style masks dont show pattern well enough

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
VERDICT

You can buy the Strobo kit here

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